2012 FireWise Day

The Fire Mitigation Committee held its annual FireWise Day on July 11, 2012.  The theme of this year’s event was “Stewardship, Forest Health and Fuels Reduction on the North Fork.”  Presentations focused on how to reduce fuels so as to serve stewardship objectives and achieve a healthy forest.

Four North Fork landowners shared their perspectives, with the help of power point presentations.  Allen Chrisman, North Fork landowner, forester and former Flathead Forest Fire Management Officer, provided a detailed description of his management objectives and accomplishments on his large family property.  He gave attendees the following “take-home” messages:

  • Every acre on the North Fork will burn.
  • We can’t change topography or fire weather but we can manipulate fuels, which will change fire behavior.
  • Know what your objectives are.
  • We can’t keep trees from growing on the North Fork
  • Vegetation will change over time no matter how much we want it to stay the same.
  • Decide which trees you want to keep and remove the rest – the sick, the lame and the lazy – then stand back and watch your forest grow.

Larry Kinsolving, Jerry Wernick and Richard Hildner related their experiences with fire on the North Fork and what they have done on their respective properties in light of those experiences.  For each of them, the bottom line appeared to be developing a plan that addresses the elements of fuels reduction, stewardship and forest health, then sticking with the plan over time.

Three of the speakers have agreed to let us post their presentations on the website. You can download each of the presentations in PDF format from below, but be aware that some of them are pretty large files due to the embedded images.

Angela Mallon, a private forestry assistance specialist for the DNRC observed that interest in reducing fuels often serves as a catalyst for getting landowners involved in stewardship.  Ms. Mallon was responsible for the grant selection process that resulted in the North Fork’s recent fuels reduction grant.  She cited North Fork fire history, and the demonstrated willingness of landowners to work to mitigate risk, as reasons for the North Fork’s selection.  Both Ms. Mallon and Bill Swope, project administrator for the new grant, stressed the importance of shaded fuel breaks and ingress/egress.

Article written by

Molly Shepherd is the Co-Chairperson of the Fire Mitigation Committee and a past President of the NFLA.

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